Since the very beginning of the season the Havre High girls basketball team has stressed improvement with every game. And after the Blue Ponies came out and gave the Anaconda Copperheads a close matchup in their second meeting of the Class A state tournament in Hamilton, it was clear the Ponies did that even at the end of their season. In Saturday night's Class A consolation game the Ponies were defeated 41-33 by the Copperheads. And after suffering a 56-30 loss by the two-time defending state champions just two days prior, battling back to achieve fourth place at state was a big accomplishment for the Ponies. “We felt like we left a lot out on the floor the first game,” Havre High senior Hayley Donovan said. “And tonight (Saturday) we really feel like we showed them who we are. They might have gotten us in the end, but I feel pretty good about how we played. “To be fourth in the state is a pretty good feeling,” fellow senior Cassi Darrah added. “Third would have been better, but we played really hard. All-in-all, I think we did a good job and I think everybody played their hardest.” Finishing fourth at the state level is becoming a trend for the Ponies. And though a state championship would be ideal, the Ponies are proud of what they achieved this season. After starting out 2-7 on the year, they finished strong. For sophomore Jaclyn Evans the loss still had a positive turnout. “It felt good after the start of the season,” Evans said. “We were able to come back and went on to beat out Livingston. Then we got blown out by Anaconda then beat all of those teams (Polson and Butte Central). It was nice to at least keep up with these teams at state.” To start Saturday night's game the Ponies came out slow. They fell behind 7-1, and couldn’t get the shots to fall. But after Cali Freier got things going with 3-pointer, the Ponies were able to take an 8-7 lead after the first eight minutes. In the second quarter the Ponies continued to make a game of it. They outscored the Copperheads 8-6 and looked to be well on their way to a thirdplace finish with a 16-13 lead at intermission. Compared to Thursday night's first meeting, the Ponies were playing substantially better. They led through the first half, and played more physical on defense and more aggressive on offense. HHS also took care of the ball and found opportunities on offense by working the ball into the post. “We sealed more aggressively,” Havre High head coach Dustin Kraske said. “It also helped that (Korey) Krumm got in foul trouble and they had a bench player in. No disrespect to her, our kids just wanted the ball more at the hoop.” But as the second half got underway, the Copperheads proved why they were a heavy favorite to win state for the third straight year. They shot the ball very well and outscored the Ponies 16-9 in the third quarter before locking down the win the fourth. But the Copperheads also got a lot of help from the foul line, going 13-of-19 on the night and 7-of-9 in the fourth quarter. In the second half the Pony offense was limited. Darrah finished the game with 17 points, and scored 13 of the Ponies' 17 in the second half. Seniors Freier and Donovan also helped lead the Ponies. They finished with six points a piece and were a big part of the Ponies' success over the weekend. “I can’t say enough about our three seniors and how they led us,” Kraske said. “At one point we are 2-7 and at the end of the season we are the No. 4 team in the state. The kids are awful proud of what they accomplished, and there was an awful lot of pride in our locker room.” Heading into the tournament the Ponies were a major underdog. They held the lowest record at 11-11 and barely snuck into the tournament to begin with. But proving their name should be amongst the state’s elite, the Ponies pulled off a third-straight No. 4 finish. They weren’t the best team there, but the Ponies proved they had what it took to come together and win. “The teams that are No. 1, 2 and 3 are better than us,” Kraske said. “But so are some of the teams that are below us. For our program to reach the accomplishment of No. 4 in the state is incredible. I could care less about records, our kids come to work every day with the mindset of getting better.” HHS reached the consolation game by beating Polson on Friday afternoon and Central A champion and rival Butte Central on Saturday morning. Billings Central edged Eastern A rival Sidney for the Class A state championship on Saturday night. The Ponies finished the season with a 13-13 overall record.
A great run: Pony girls finish fourth
Published: Monday, March 15th, 2010
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